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Uptown School With Trailers for 10 Years Pushes DOE for New Classrooms

By Nigel Chiwaya | April 8, 2014 1:59pm
  Advocates called the continued use of the decade-old trailers at P.S. 48 "unacceptable."
Parents Call for Removal of P.S. 48 Trailers
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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — For parents at one Washington Heights elementary school, 10 years of trailers is long enough.

With children at P.S. 48 P.O. Michael Buczek using trailers as classrooms for the past decade, parents and education advocates protested outside the school Tuesday morning, asking for more space in the main building.

"They're called temporary classroom units, but they've been here a decade," District 6 CEC president Miriam Aristy-Farer said. "It's been 10 years of temporary."

The three trailers, located in the school's playground, house the school's kindergarten classes, Aristy-Farer said, with one hosting an English-language-learner class. Parents say the trailers are old and unsafe, with splintered wooden railings, unreliable heat, mold and rodents.

"If this was a landlord, do you know how many citations there'd have been?" parent Ernesto Vasquez said.

The trailers force 5- and 6-year-olds to walk outside to go to lunch or the nurse's office.

"When they have lunch, they have to cross over. If it snows, they have to cross over," said Guzman, 29, who has a third child who will begin classes at the school in the fall.

Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña spoke about the trailers at a public forum March 20, when she said the trailers would be removed from city schools within the next five years.

The DOE stuck to that timeline on Tuesday.

"Our proposed five-year capital plan calls for eliminating the roughly 300 trailers," a department spokesman said in a statement, adding that the trailers have been deemed safe for use.

"Our Facilities Division is working with the school today on outstanding issues," the statement continued. "Our trailers are inspected each year as part of our building survey. These are safe facilities."

CEC members said they believe the new DOE administration is listening to them, but they want the trailers removed sooner. They even offer a solution — that their own offices and those of the District 6 administration be moved from inside the building to a trailer, to make space for kids.

"My first day as president, I looked out the window and saw the trailers," Aristy-Farer said. "I don't need this space."